A sheriff's deputy who shot a dog in 2010 denies that embarrassment from a previous encounter with dogs led him to pull the trigger.
Deputy First Class Timothy Brooks took the stand Wednesday in Frederick County Circuit Court, saying he was affected by a 2009 incident in which he inadvertently shocked a second dog while attempting to shoot with a Taser a dog that was trying to bite him. Both dogs were shocked after they touched and completed the circuit.
Brooks said he was shaken by the bizarre incident and a realization that, as a deputy then in his second year of service, he needed to be better prepared for the unexpected.
"It was just a weird situation, kind of an absurd situation to look at," Brooks said.
Roger and Sandi Jenkins, of Taneytown, sued the Frederick County Sheriff's Office and the state of Maryland after Brooks shot Brandi, their chocolate Labrador retriever, when he and Deputy First Class Nathan Rector went to the couple's Bullfrog Road home on Jan. 9, 2010, to serve a civil warrant on their son.
Defense attorney Dan Karp had Brooks read from his deposition about his reaction to the incident. Karp suggested that plaintiff's attorney Cary Hansel selectively focused on Brooks' statement that he was "freaked out" by the 2009 incident and that a supervisor made fun of him.
"It just made an impression on me that, wow, you know, I have to act quickly, and I was glad the dog was the size it was," Brooks read.
The incident taught him that Tasers were ineffective on dogs because of the trajectory of the probes and the time they take to deploy in a rapidly developing situation, he said, and a Taser leaves an officer vulnerable if the probes do not find their mark because the weapon cannot be fired again immediately.
In his opening statement Tuesday, Hansel had said Brooks' embarrassment at being the butt of jokes influenced his decision to shoot Brandi.
Hansel's attempts to question Brooks about the issue were thwarted by repeated successful objections by Maryland Assistant Attorney General Roger Wolfe Jr., representing the state.
Throughout the testimony, Hansel and plaintiff's attorney Rebekah Lusk had entire lines of questioning halted by Wolfe's objections.
All but a handful were sustained by Montgomery County Judge Marielsa Bernard.
Wolfe objected to Lusk's asking Dr. Gary Kubala, the dog's veterinarian, about the animal's long-term prognosis for wounds to her shoulder and upper leg, on the grounds that Kubala was not certified as an expert witness.
After several rephrasing attempts, Lusk got Kubala to testify that the dog would require pain medication for the rest of her life unless the leg was amputated. Kubala said the limb is virtually useless.
"I would amputate right now," he said. "I don't feel I'm adequately treating her pain right now."
Amputation would cost $2,500, he said. The other option is monthly $70 laser treatments after an initial series of treatments costing $275.
Hansel questioned Brooks about alternatives to shooting the dog, including retreat.
Brooks said that because he was backing up, he did not have a accurate sense of his escape route, and he could have been backed into a corner by obstacles, including his squad car and a sheet of ice.
Also at issue was whether Roger Jenkins told the deputies not to go inside the house as he and his wife were taking the dog to the veterinarian.
Brooks told Karp he did not hear Jenkins say that, and that Rector never told him he did, either.
Jenkins initially told the deputies they could come inside after he put the dogs away. Therefore, the defense said, the deputies believed they still had permission, which is required by law in such a situation.
Brooks said he followed Rector into the house, where they found the Jenkinses' son hiding and served the warrant.
The Jenkinses are seeking undisclosed monetary and nonmonetary damages in the case.